The Giving Tree

The Christmas tree is one of those traditions that are rife with emotional imagery. Bright-eyed children descending upon it on Christmas morning. Families gathering round it on Christmas Eve. Frenzied efforts (with a fair amount of expletives) to successfully get it positioned on the stand in the first place. Whatever picture pops in your head when you think of the Christmas tree, it's usually a good (or at least funny) one.

But the reason we love Christmas trees so much is because they embody the spirit of the season. It's where we stow the gifts we've carefully purchased and wrapped for those we love most. And since gifts are tokens of our love, the tree effectively becomes a symbol for two biggest catchwords of the season: love and giving. And it's important to think about how those concepts apply to everyone, not just the familyseated around the table on Christmas or Hanukkah.

With that in mind, I thought I'd list a few ways to give back to those in need this season. It starts, of course, with getting familiar with nonprofits you like. I've covered a number of them on my website , but if you're starting from scratch, think about your interests. If you like art, see if your local museum needs volunteers. Are you an animal person? There are dozens of animal-based charities in most major cities. Do you prefer cleaning up parks or streets? Helping kids? Aiding the homeless? Chances are good there's already a group hard at work in your area of interest, and they almost always need an extra set of hands. Do it for others or for yourself (there's no better way to get in the Christmas spirit!), just do something positive!

1. Hurricane Sandy is gone, but the damage definitely isn't. (Just turn on the news to see for yourself.) Whether you live in the area or across the country, you can do something. (Give blood! Help a business get its website back up! The options are diverse.) Check out this website Click here for ways to help.

2. Host a party and demand as an entrance fee a donation for your charity of choice. This is a great way to have fun and help out at the same time!

3. Start a donation drive at your office. There's no better way to get people involved than via peer pressure, especially if you're the boss!

4. Volunteer. Pick one Saturday this month and one worthy charity…and mark your calendar! It's as simple as that. You don't have to form an ongoing relationship (but if you do, that's great.) You just have to spend an afternoon focusing on someone else who needs your help.

5. Charity starts at home. Is a friend struggling to make ends meet? Play Secret Santa, and help her out with her Christmas shopping. Did your brother-in-law get laid off this year? Pay his car payment this month or offer to spruce up his resume. Wherever your skills or resources allow, utilize them for someone you love who needs your help.

Of course there are hundreds of other ways to get involved this season. My point is simply to remind you they exist and that it's on all of us to seek them out.

Happy Holidays!

3 comments (Add your own)

1. Ibocan wrote:
I think it's really easy to get sucekd into those kind of situations, sometimes unaware, and its only when you've extricated yourself that you realise how spiritually dirty it made you feel. It's not easy, though, especially as for instance you might have to work with these people or they might be your relations. I am trying to work on setting boundaries, and truly believing I have the right to express these, but it can be difficult!

Mon, January 14, 2013 @ 5:19 AM

2. onzlhoyufel wrote:
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Tue, January 15, 2013 @ 3:38 AM

3. bdfvjnwkz wrote:
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Tue, January 15, 2013 @ 10:57 PM

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